Making a Splosh for Dosh – 8 January 2011

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SPLOSH FOR DOSH_Swimmers raising money whilst exercising at the Maidenhead Magnet.

The Lions Club of Maidenhead are the local branch of a brilliant worldwide organisation, and – as their biggest fundraiser – they hold a swimarathon annually at the Magnet Leisure Centre. Now in its 26 year, the event is a must-do for every charity in the town and, since its inception, it’s raised £400,000 for hundreds of good causes. Today, it was once again the time for town’s swimming pool to be taken over for 14 hours, as an estimated 800 swimmers made a splash for cash.

JAMBO SWIMBO_The four of the Scout Jamboreers represented at the swimarathon.

It’s become something of a long-running joke that just one, 55-minute swimming relay is never enough for me. This year, I was swimming for three groups: the Maidenhead and Cookham Scout Jamboreers, my church of St Luke’s, and my house of Henley from school.

The idea of the swimarathon is very simple. Teams of any size (typically five to ten people) collect sponsorship in the weeks running up to the event, and then swim in relay-style for 55 minutes on the big day itself. Whilst it is not a race, and the number of laps completed is irrelevant, there is always a friendly-competitive atmosphere present and it’s great in the last minutes to use any energy you still have left as you try and cram as many lengths in as possible before the whistle blows symbolising the end of your session.

Swimming for the Jamboree had been a great way to fundraise. The Lions had been extremely generous in September when we took part in their ‘Fund-run’, but in my opinion, swimming was better. The day had begun badly, when I had somewhat of a ‘trouser department malfunction’, after diving in wearing shorts hideously large. After 50 metres of keeping a firm grip on my dignity, I made it to the end. I then had just a couple of minutes to find my spare pair and change into them before it was my turn again. However, with my Jamboree fundraising total almost reached, the swimarathon provided a great opportunity to knock on neighbours’ doors one last time.

Half an hour after drying myself off from that swim, the church group began to congregate on the poolside. Now I am 14, and because the number of children from the church’s Sunday Club team by far outnumbered the number of participants in the church’s fully-grown men’s group, I swam in the latter’s lane.

ALL TOGETHER NOW_The group from St Luke's Church, Maidenhead, having just completed a combined total of 120 laps.

My third and final swim of the day (I had to turn down my swimming club and Explorer group) was at 7:00pm, when I represented Henley House from my school. People with a new lease of energy and excitement somehow made me go quicker too; and, no doubt, the sizeable band of supporters watching from the spectators’ seats were of great encouragement to us all.

As little 8-year-old Rhys struggled to avoid being crushed into the self-folding chairs this afternoon, I “eyed up competition”. But seriously, we would be swimming against a group of both mentally and physically (and, in some cases, both) disabled Maidonians, a bunch of Thames Valley Air Ambulance supporters, and representatives from the Maidenhead Stroke Club. I love that. There’s times when I think that Maidenhead is a rubbish town. Empty retail units in the High Street. Its fair share of vandalism and graffiti. News stories of murders and robbery. But I truly believe that it’s events like this – organised, let’s not forget, by local people out of the goodness of their hearts – which provide a stage to show off the fantastically wide demographic of the town’s community, and also to raise vast amounts of money for countless good causes. Now that, in itself, must be a good thing.

Team

Number of laps completed

Maidenhead and Cookham World Scout Jamboreers

72
(we squeezed two more in after the above photo was taken!)

St Luke’s Men

51

Henley House (school)

72

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a 20-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. A self-professed "lover of life", he enjoys a busy calendar of activities and engagements. With regular involvement in the Scout Association and his church, he was made Head Boy in his final year at school. After a gap-year spent as a Teaching Assistant at a local junior school, he is now half-way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he swims, reads, and enjoys writing about himself in the third-person.

1 Response

  1. Ed Filmore says:

    I’m more than impressed – you don’t want a PR job for the Lions do you?